After nearly a month of unusually mild weather, southern Manitoba is bracing for the first cold snap of 2023.
Andy Thiessen, Chief of Morden Fire and Rescue, says the mild weather makes people forget about making routines winter checks around the house in preparation for inevitable snowstorms.
"Just a reminder to have their furnace vents cleared so that they're able to breathe, especially the high efficiency ones where they come out of the side of the building. It's very easy for a snowbank to cover up those vents. It’s another time where people bring out the space heaters just to take off the chill in a room, in the basement perhaps. Just make sure that those are on a non-combustible surface and that there's a clear area around it, with no clothing or cardboard boxes or that kind of thing. Just keep an eye on them. That's usually what causes it during this cold stuff."
Dryer vents should also be kept clear of snow and lint points out Thiessen, to avoid clothes overheating and catching fire.
Motorists need to prepare for emergencies before hitting the road.
"Having an extra blanket or a flashlight, maybe an extra pair of mitts in a kit, a couple of sealed packages of granola bars or those snack bars, have them in there as well, they'll last forever. But it's something that it's nice to keep you warm when you're stuck. Venturing away from your vehicle in a storm is not recommended. Stay your vehicle. It's easier to find your vehicle on a road than it is to find a person a quarter mile off the road or something that's got disoriented."
A flashlight is another essential for that vehicle emergency kit. It can be used to flag down other motorists when help is needed.
Thiessen is surprised how many motorists under dress for winter driving.
"We go to a number of motor vehicle accidents where a person's there with some slip-on summer shoes or they don't have a jacket because you know they're in the car that's nice and warm? Well, all of a sudden when there's a window missing or you're upside down and the window's crashed, and now wind and snow and everything starts blowing in. You become cold very quickly. So just bring along the appropriate clothing for the time of year that we're in."
Thiessen remembers his father often telling him to stock his vehicle with a toque, a pair of mitts and boots in case he got stuck in the snow.
Without proper gear, a person can freeze quite quickly when exposed to the elements.